Hey! Are you following our podcast in your favorite app? Add us by clicking one of the links.

AppleSpotifyGoogleOvercastPocket CastsRSS

I really enjoyed the conversation lead by Brian Coords on the topic of version control for WordPress developers and builders.

He was joined by my recurring cohost, Mark Szymanski, as he asked the tough questions many beginners might be facing in their early development days. Yes, that’s the same Mark that cohosted the episode of Crossroads of WordPress with me last week on the WP Minute+.

This post isn’t just about the advantages of using version control on your next WordPress project, but more of an example of how great the WordPress community is.

Mark and I have talked about building and learning in public before, and that’s exactly what Brian’s livestream was. A veteran WordPress developer, sharing his experience and teaching someone coming up in web agency world.

It’s fascinating watching Mark learn in public. I applaud him for having the humility to put himself out there in an effort to become a better agency owner.

Earlier in the year I predicted that we’d see more Mark’s coming on to the scene.

Tools like Elementor and Bricks have onboarded more enterprising individuals over the last few years to kickstart their own web services business. Most of them, like Mark, never had to crack open a code editor or SSH into a server and reboot the MySQL service when it ran out of memory.

Being able to rapidly build websites with a turnkey plugin can be a blessing and a curse. The theme of Brian’s livestream was partly to highlight some of the weak links in the chain when delivering client websites. Certainly “version control” isn’t the answer to everything, but it’s a trait that you’ll see in more mature projects.

So when do you actually invest in “version control?” It depends, and it might not be how and when you think.

If we put the technical term aside for a moment: Let’s think accountability instead. Explore what your client relationship looks like. How much are they paying you, how mission-critical is the website, and who is on the hook for support?

Themes, plugins, tutorials, free code snippets, all at our fingertips. It’s easy to pull something off the shelf and shove it into WordPress as a solution for clients. No one is the wiser. Until that off the shelf thing breaks, lacks a feature, or gets abandoned.

Say you delivered a $25k project to a client, but you built the entire thing on Cwicly, then it closed. Now what? Or you were using SearchWP on bunch of non-profit sites, then it was acquired by Awesome Motive and the license fee doubled — with lots more upsells to other products. Now what?

Now let’s talk communication: Novices might not mention they are using a page builder when they are quoting a client. “My God, what happens if they find out I paid $59 for a plugin that they could use themselves to build this site?!” I sympathize with that imposter syndrome, years ago I felt the same way.

Flip the script!

Instead you communicate in full transparency with the customer “Hey, based on your budget, I’ll have to build this site with a page builder tool. It gets us 90% of the way there faster and cheaper, but also has some limitations. You’ll save some money on the services side, but you’ll have to purchase a license in order for us to use on it on your site. If we had a bigger budget or more time, we could get exactly what you want with a custom theme.”

It’s Spring in the US so I’ll use this other analogy with my desire to erect a shed in my yard: Do I build it myself? Nope. Do I buy a prebuilt one from Home Depot, and worry about the quality versus cost spent? Or do I hire a builder, knowing it will last longer, be exactly what I want, but cost 3x more?

Open communication will always work best with clients, especially when you want to set clear boundaries of accountability.

There’s always a balance. Obviously, version control isn’t the answer to this, but it is part of an overall solution where more mature agencies will measure the risk when putting a project brief together.

Is this a mission-critical feature? Does the client have the budget? Can we build this? Do we want to build this?

Even if you don’t register for your first Github account after listening to Brian’s livestream, the message that there’s a whole new layer above basic page builder services — the concept of building for continuity, therefore increasing project deal size — is why this is a standout episode.

Catch the VOD replay and start leveling up, WordPress builder!

Join The Newsletter

Get your favorite 5 minutes of WordPress news for busy professionals every week — 100% Free! Join the WP Minute Newsletter below 👇


Similar Posts